Ten tips for creating a productive workplace

Employees sat around together discussing business issues.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Your business can have the most talented and motivated staff around, but they won’t live up to their potential if they have to work in an unsuitable environment.

If you want to avoid that issue, you’ve got to create a working environment that revolves around productivity, communication and positivity. That sounds great on paper, but it’s easier said than done.

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It’s not just about getting the physical space right. To create a workplace where people can thrive you’ve got to get the company culture right, too. And while these ten tips are suitable for managers and people in offices, lots of them are applicable for home workers and freelancers, too.

This isn’t the end of our advice for getting the most out of work, either: head here for the lowdown on practical tips for workplace productivity, and discover the secrets behind the best morning routines.  

Encourage communication 

Nobody is at their best when they’re isolated – and that’s true in life and in the workplace. To that end, make sure that good communication starts from the top: if you’re in charge be open and honest about your workplace successes, challenges and goals. Keep your office door open if possible, be friendly and upbeat, and don’t single people out if they’ve made mistakes.

Bring this attitude to your electronic communication, especially if you’ve got some people who work remotely. Make sure that everyone has easy access to the software they need for effective business communication – and the hardware, if they need webcams or microphones. Ensure that every relevant person is included on emails, and make routes of communication obvious and easily accessible.

If everyone can raise issues when necessary – and if everyone feels that they can communicate honestly – then productivity will follow.

Keep an eye on people

This might sound a bit insidious, but we don’t just mean monitoring people’s performance, keeping people on task and making sure they’re not wasting time – although that will remain important in any workplace.

Instead, check in on your employee’s welfare – their mental and physical health, stress levels and satisfaction with work. If you make sure your people are OK and let them know that they’ll be supported no matter the situation, they will feel more comfortable and their work will improve. Ultimately, just show that you care, and productivity will improve.

Never stop learning

Want to encourage a working environment that’s forward-thinking, dynamic and, yes, productive? Then make sure you and your people always have the chance to train, learn and improve.

If your workplace funds learning and training, your staff will obviously develop their skills. It goes without saying that productivity will improve as a result. But, beyond that, if you let employees chase their passions and improve their prospects, they’ll be happier too.

Have measurable goals 

It’s no good having happy, motivated staff members if they don’t know what they’re doing. To avoid that issue, make sure that your employees have clear, accessible goals so they’ll always know their next steps.

To go further in this direction, break those larger, long-term goals down into smaller, more measurable targets so people get frequent endorphin boosts from completed tasks and frequent praise. And, alongside concrete goals, make sure that you acknowledge people’s achievements.

Cut out distractions

It’s all too easy to get distracted whether you’re at the office or at home – by people, notifications, games consoles or all manner of other things. And if those distractions get too acute, productivity will plummet.

Whether you’re at home or work, you should encourage everyone to turn off irritating smartphone pings and reduce the number of email and browser alerts that pop up – we’re surrounded by those for most of the working day, but not many of them are particularly useful. Eliminate wasteful meetings that could easily be quick calls or convenient email chains, get things done on your break, and talk to your people about their ideas to reduce distractions too.

Cut out the clutter, too

No one will be productive if their working space is busy and untidy. If you want to avoid this, give your people plenty of organization options, make it easy for people to throw things away or recycle materials, and give people well-designed spaces that make it easy for them to store and reach any equipment or supplies they might need.

If you reduce clutter you’ll keep people calm and focused and ensure they spend less time looking for things and more time working – and productivity will get a boost.

Concentrate on design

Having a well-designed workplace isn’t just about reducing clutter and keeping things organized, either – how the environment is arranged can also impact productivity.

Happily, there are some clear ground rules that you should follow if you want a workspace to encourage productivity. Make sure the office has as much natural light as possible – it’s scientifically proven to be better for productivity than artificial illumination. Keep plenty of plants around – that’s another addition that’s been proven to make people work better.

Muted colors are ideal for creating a calm, relaxing environments, while shades like yellow are better for productivity. Make sure the office isn’t too hot or cold – you may want to survey your employees to find out what temperature they prefer, too – and make sure the office is kept clean.

Fill the office with great equipment

When you’re in charge of budgets it’s tempting to buy the bare minimum to save some cash, but when it comes to office equipment that’s a move that can hamper long-term productivity.

Instead, invest in good equipment for your staff: whether it’s computers, ergonomic chairs or standing desks, if you give people quality hardware then you’ll be rewarded with more output and more motivated employees. This extends to software, too, and remember to ask staff members what they need – no one will have a better idea than the people who are actually doing the work.

Encourage breaks

If people have frequent breaks from work, they’ll be far more productive than if they just sit at their desks for hours – that’s simply science.

If you want your staff to stay as productive as possible, let them take breaks as often as they need – in this regard, trust them to not take advantage and you’ll reap the benefits.

Also ensure that your break facilities are top-notch. Depending on your business budgets you may want to offer snacks, hot drinks, leisure activities and comfortable seating to encourage people to really rest and recharge.

Stay positive

Not everything will go well in the workplace – that’s just human nature. But when things go right, make a big deal out of it, congratulate the right people, and reward your team.

Celebrating victories – even minor ones – will keep people motivated, encourage good workplace morale, and generate friendships. And all of that goes a long way towards keeping people happy and productive at the office.

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.